Sister of Social Service Simone Campbell of Social Service Simone Campbell is an author, lawyer, poet, and Executive Director of NETWORK, an organization that lobbies on issues of economic justice, immigration reform, and healthcare.
My faith impels me into the public square. It is abundantly clear that Pope Francis is correct when he says that faith has real consequences in the world . . . and these consequences involve politics. . . . Religion/politics is at the heart of my contemplative practice. I am nourished daily by the people I meet and whose stories I hear. My heart is broken open by the truth of their hunger and hope. It is not a theoretical reality for me. My meditation has become breath, that we might see, that we might walk, and, in the process, heal our society that is famished for community and knowing that we belong to each other. . . .
No one can be left out of my care. Therefore [our] political work is anchored in caring for those whom we lobby as well as those whose cause we champion. This was illustrated for me recently when I was . . . lobbying a . . . Senator. . . . I commented on the story of a constituent and asked her how her colleagues could turn their eyes away from the suffering and fear of their people. The conversation went on a bit, and then the senator came back to my question. She said that . . . they did not get close to the candid stories of their people. In fact, some did not see these constituents as “their people.” Tears sprang to my eyes at her candor and the pain that keeps us sealed off from each other because of political partisanship. . . .
In many ways, we are a bit like the senators who close themselves off from the needs of their constituents. We could get caught in the pain of rejection and blame, fighting against an unjust judgment. But for me, the contemplative perspective leads to letting go of my desires and control while opening to the gift of the moment. My consistent learning is that behind the loss is always a surprise, opening into something new. There are prices to be paid, but they are small when compared to the hunger of our people. . . .
My prayer has led me to compassion. Compassion often leads to much more nuanced analysis. . . . The Spirit has pushed us out of our comfort zone of acceptability in order to meet the needs of people we had not known were ours. . . .
-Center for Action and Contemplation
As a platform for disinformation, it is a weapon. To be used intentionally as a platform for disinformation, it is an atomic bomb.
Ad targeting is how Facebook, Google and other online giants won the internet. It’s also key to understanding why these companies are being held responsible for warping elections and undermining democracy, managing editor Scott Rosenberg writes in the opening installment of our “What Matters 2020” series.
- Critics and tech companies are increasingly considering whether limiting targeting of political ads might be one way out of the misinformation maze.
- Giant platforms would still allow campaigns and candidates to purchase political ads — but the companies would stop (either voluntarily or by law) selling messages aimed only at narrow segments of the electorate.
How ad targeting works: Facebook and Google have somewhat different systems for targeting ads, but both allow advertisers to bid on narrowly defined demographic groups or keywords.
- For instance, you can tell Facebook to show your message only to Southern men who don’t have a college degree and earn less than $75,000 — or ask for married suburban moms in three ZIP Codes outside Indianapolis who own SUVs and play tennis.
- In the political ad world, these tools allow candidates and groups to exploit those populations’ anxieties and resentments, efficiently.
The link between ad targeting and misinformation … Tech platforms stand accused of multiple sins, including:
- Improperly collecting users’ data to build massive databases of profiles.
- Allowing politicians and their campaigns to spread lies.
- Creating partisan “echo chambers” and “filter bubbles” that segment reality by ideology.
Facebook and Google didn’t invent these phenomena — they existed pre-internet. But by tying them together, ad targeting can kick misinformation into overdrive:
- Data collection and profile building is what makes ad targeting possible. It’s also what keeps getting tech platforms in trouble with users and governments.
- Campaigns have always shaded the truth and even lobbed false accusations. But in a broadcast world, it was easy for opponents and neutral third parties to witness and call out such behavior.
- In the world of micro-targeted ads, it’s almost impossible — despite transparency efforts like Facebook’s ad library.
- Misleading ads fuel frenzies in the closed-loop worlds of partisan echo chambers long before platforms can step in to bar them.
Banning all political ads vs. banning targeting: Many critics have urged social media platforms to bar political advertising altogether — a move both Google and Facebook have resisted, even as their smaller but politically high-profile competitor Twitter said it would embrace it.
- Facebook argues that such a ban would harm outsider candidates and causes.
- Twitter’s ban is significant, but its ad market share and targeting capabilities are minuscule compared to Facebook’s and Google’s.
The idea of a targeting ban has gained momentum recently, with figures like Bill Gates and FEC chair Ellen Weintraub endorsing it.
- Defenders of the status quo argue that online targeting isn’t fundamentally different from longtime campaign practices like ZIP Code targeting of postal flyers, and they maintain that it’s a free-speech issue.
‘DT, hosted the Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg for a private dinner at the White House last month.
NBC News revealed that the meeting, which had not previously been disclosed, took place when Zuckerberg was in Washington being grilled by Congress over topics including Facebook’s limited steps to ban to misinformation in political advertising.
NBC (also) reported the billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel, a conservative who donated to Trump’s 2016 campaign and sits on Facebook’s board, was also present at the meeting.’
Thiel, who is the chairman of private data technology company Palantir, donated $1.25m to DT’s 2016 presidential campaign. In August a report by Mijente, a Latinx organizing not-for-profit, found that Palantir has more than $1.5bn in federal government contracts.
[According to Forbes, Thiel has a net worth of $2.5 billion.]
“…an essay published in 2009, (Thiel) surprised many when he wrote that giving women the right to vote — by constitutional amendment in 1920 — was a blow to democracy.”